Exclusive! Behind the Swinging '60s Wardrobe of The Astronaut Wives Club

On a mission to find a new retro-inspired show to rule your tube this summer? Not a problem. The Astronaut Wives Club is going to be your go-to. Based on the book by Lily Koppel, the ABC drama orbits the lives of the seven women who went from military wives to American royalty during the space race of the 1960s. Emmy-winning costume designer Eric Daman is the talent behind the gorgeous swinging sixties wardrobe. Below, he shares an inside look into how he launched the signature styles of the women behind America’s first astronauts.

Scroll down to meet the stylish seven from The Astronaut Wives Club, and don't forget to tune in to The Astronaut Wives Club, a 10-episode event, premiering Thursday, June 18, at 8/7c on ABC.

1. Describe The Astronaut Wives Club to someone you’ve just met.

ED: “[It’s] an intimate, enlightening, and exhilarating look into the lives of America’s real housewives and their incredible stories of camaraderie, dedication, and discovery. Not to mention a show full of amazing and transitory fashion eye candy as we follow the space race and sociopolitical evolution of our country.”

2. How does wardrobe help you paint an accurate portrait of each wife? 

ED: “The style evolution of each wife is a sign of the times and a sign of their personal evolution as well. For the men it was about being launched into space, but for the wives it was about being launched into a social stratosphere. I tried to tell a fashion-as-final-frontier story tracking time and self-discovery with each outfit selection. The transformation from everyday army wife in a homemade shirt waist dress to social butterfly best dressed in a Pucci pantsuit!”

3. Why do you think '60s fashion continues to fascinate audiences today?

ED: “The early ’60s was not a culture of fast or disposable fashion. Closets weren't updated every season, ‘good clothes’ were meant to last, and a refresh would happen through accessories, lip colour, or maybe a new cardigan. It was a time of revelation and revolution. It was a time to explore and express. Fashion was the key vehicle in making a statement, either politically or socially. I don't think there is another period or era where the fashions are such a sign of the times, but also of the future."

Astronaut Husband: Alan Shepard

4. Louise Shepard shares similar qualities to Jackie Kennedy. Describe her style.

ED: “Louise is a swan. She was the ‘first lady of space.’ Her taste and style is elevated, more en vogue than our other wives. She grew up with the Du Ponts (one of the richest families in America) and has a sense of high fashion and an East Coast reserve that is exemplified by her wardrobe choices. Structured, strict, and minimal silhouettes, new look lengths give her a polished and proper look at all times.”

5. What ’60s fashion trend would you like to revisit throughout the season?

ED: “I wish we could have continued to see more of the New Look (Dior) silhouette—tea-length skirts and kitten heels (Louise’s Ferragamos are to die for!) that vanished as we got into later ’60s and vice versa. I wish we could have seen more mod and Pucci that only starts to appear in the later episodes.”

Astronaut Husband: Scott Carpenter

6. In the pilot, Rene’s effervescent and trailblazing personality really shines through, especially with her wardrobe choices. What about who she is influences her style?

ED: “Rene is confident and outspoken. She is educated, with career aspirations. She is a pioneering feminist, and her figure-fitting and daring choices express that.”

7. How so?

ED: “Anything goes with Rene—the brighter the better! Her clothes are louder and more ‘in your face’ than the other wives. She fancies herself a fashion forerunner and experiments and uses fashion and style to express herself. Tight sheath or ‘wiggle’-style dresses, deep necklines, painted-on peddle pushers, short shorts, and revealing wrap tops are her go-tos.”

Astronaut Husband: Gus Grissom

8. Betty’s the epitome of Midwestern charm when the wives first meet. What prints and colours inspired her wardrobe?

ED: “[Betty’s] style is a bit provincial but always unique. She is a sweet treat in Pendleton plaids and novelty prints and is a ray of sunshine, always wearing her signature colour—yellow. Her good-natured demeanour and Midwestern hospitality are also represented by folksy autumnals—pumpkin, goldenrod, and evergreen.”

9. Who are Betty's style icons?

ED: “Claudette Colbert, Judy Garland, Dale Evans, and Lucille Ball.”

Astronaut Husband: Gordon Cooper

10. It’s obvious from the start that Trudy is the only wife who opts for cigarette pants in a sea of full skirts. Why?

ED: “Trudy is not fussy or prissy; her independence is expressed stylistically in her deliberate choice of cigarette pants and jeans paired with masculine shirtings (knotted at the waist for extra-cute appeal!). Skirts and dresses only for formal or dress-up occasions.

11. What colours can viewers expect to see Trudy wearing?

ED: “Her love affair with Hawaii plays into her clothing choices: tropical prints and punchy colours. Cherry red and turquoise grounded by olive, khaki, and bark brown make up her palette.”

Astronaut Husband: John Glenn

12. Annie’s a bit of a shy one. How did you approach her look?

ED: “Annie Glenn’s wardrobe is reserved and demure with a hint of church mouse. Her clothing choices, often a bit naive and very girlie, give her an air of vulnerability and innocence that makes her easy to love and feel for.”

13. What’s hanging in her closet?

ED: “High ruffled necklines, covered arms, and soft, sweet discreet pastels line her closet.”

Astronaut Husband: Deke Slayton

14. Describe Marge. 

ED: “She is ‘Mother Marge,’ and her ’40s-throwback style gives her a retro appeal that has a strength and nurturing quality that might be reminiscent of a favourite aunt. The ’40s were her heyday, thus the film-noir vedettes with a ‘been around the block’ allure are her inspiration.”

15. What’s hanging in Marge’s closet?

ED: “Tight angora sweaters, formfitting pencil skirts in rich reds, deep maroons are always accented with signature brooches and gemstones.”

Astronaut Husband: Wally Schirra

16: Jo’s style embodies the ’50s-era TV wife, à la Donna Reed. Describe her signature outfit.

ED: “Prim and proper in shift dresses, tawny twin sets, bow blouses in a creamy palette of winter whites and tasteful tans.”

17. Favourite accessories include?

ED: “Her signature headband tops off her style and is the icing on her polished look. Also, Jo would never be caught dead without her perfect pearls!”

Tune in to The Astronaut Wives Club, a 10-episode event, premiering Thursday, June 18, at 8/7c on ABC.

Are you game to watch The Astronaut Wives Club next Thursday? Tell us in the comments below.

Nairi Najarian
Nairi Najarian